As recent worm and virus attacks have shown, the Net is becoming less like an information superhighway and more like a potholed road in a bad part of town. The most common security threat used to be the occasional virus that could be dealt with by keeping your antivirus software updated. But now, as worms, viruses, malicious code strings, booby-trapped spam and hackers roam the Net, you need a better strategy to protect your computers and networks from attack.
The CRN Test Center looked at two software suites that can help harried business owners: Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2004 Professional Edition and MicroWorld's eScan 2003 Internet Security Suite. Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2004 Professionaloffers one-stop security shopping and combines Norton AntiVirus software with a personal firewall, spam filter and Web content filter. Setup and use of the suite, which costs $100 (all prices street), are straightforward. Once installed, the suite's spam filter analyzes incoming mail and adds the word "spam" to the subject lines of suspect messages. Users can then set up a rule for the software to delete the message or put it in a junk mail folder.
The suite's firewall monitors incoming and outgoing traffic and blocks attacks, malicious code and pop-up ads. The firewall's content control also lets administrators limit the Web sites users can access, while privacy controls prevent personal or confidential information from being sent over the Internet.
For numerous PCs on a LAN, it's best to centralize content and security control on a network server. That's where MicroWorld's eScan 2003 Internet Security Suitecomes in. This $60 offering is available for networks or desktop use and offers pop-up blocking, URL filtering and e-mail scanning. On a network, eScan is deployed in two pieces: one on the server and one on each client machine. Initial installation is straightforward, and the process of pushing the client portions of the software to network-attached PCs is easy. The suite examines network traffic in real time. This process could slow down network operations, but Test Center engineers didn't find problems on a small test network including a Windows 2000 server and four client PCs.
For individual users or companies with unconnected computers, Norton Internet Security 2004 Professional is effective. But for network-attached PCs, eScan offers more flexible licensing options, more granular management control and easier deployment.
Frank J. Ohlhorst and contributing writer Michael Gros are affiliated with the CRN Test Center, the technology testing facility for CRN, a weekly newspaper aimed at IT consultants and solution providers.